From Ice Hockey to modeling and acting, Chris West talks mental health, cheat meals, and more in this exclusive interview. Born in Oakland and raised in Berkeley, CA, West was devastated after college, knowing his dreams of playing hockey at a professional level were coming to an end.
Being the firm opportunist that he is, he applied the work ethic he had learned from hockey to his other passions. Fast forward three years and here we are.
The hard work and grind that hockey taught me at a young age shows itself on a daily basis in my career, as I have worked worldwide in this industry and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
-What are key qualities to becoming a model in your opinion?
–First and foremost is you absolutely must be personable. Your personality shines much further than your look does. When you enter a room for the first time sure you may be beautiful, but can you hold a conversation? People want to know that they are working with more than just a pretty face.
-How do you measure success?
—I don’t measure success. In my eyes success is varies from person to person and can carry multiple meanings. However, if I had to narrow it down I would say success to me means overall fulfillment both mentally and physically. When you reach a place where you are happy with what is on the inside and out-that is a success that no one can take away.
-Why did you choose to pursue a career as a model/actor?
–What drew me to modeling and acting is its constant development as an art form. I always knew I wanted to be in front of the camera but I had no idea how to get started, until one day I walked into Lisa Keating Photography and my life has been different ever since. Being on set opens a creative space for me to be myself which I find is hard in todays society with everything being so public. Be it print, editorial, stills or on camera, I chose it as a career because it is who I am, it is my home.
-Whats your favorite city that modeling has taken you?
—-CAPE TOWN!! There are plenty of other markets that I would like to work in at some point, but man South Africa is something like I have never seen. The people, scenery, HIKES, and not to mention the amazing food. I’m pretty sure I had ham hocks at least once a week during season and with ZERO regrets.
-What separates a good photographer from a bad photographer? Is it simply angles?
—No no no. It’s far more than angles. At the end of the day I believe its about connection. How you feel around a photographers lens is most important. You can work with some of the best photographers around but if there is no connection and fluidity between you two, it will show in the work you produce.
A good photographer brings their own style to everything, and has no problem shooting models of different tones and shapes.
-Most people think models simply get hit up for gigs all the time. Can you explain the importance of a talent manager or agent and how yours has currently helped your career!?
—Ha, we definitely don’t get hit up for gigs all the time. This industry and market just like anything else is super competitive. You have to market yourself 10x more than your manager or agent. I have found that overall it is important to have a team of people who believe in you and your commitment to the craft in order to be successful in the business. Be it manager or agent, if you aren’t working for each other there will be some avoidable bumps along the way.
-Favorite cheat meal?
–Ok I’ll admit have a serious snacking issue! Some of my go-to’s are cookies and chocolate almond milk, spicy nacho doritos, and anything with a reeces logo on it. Disclaimer: wherever there are lucky charms 9 times out of 10 there is also Chris.
-What are good tactics to train to become a model?
–Embracing all facets of yourself is incredibly important when being in this industry. Love the good, the bad, and the ugly. Understand your body type and never forget the core values that are instilled in you. Learn the market you are in, who has a similar successful look, and kind of use that as a guide to which direction you may want to go. Most importantly, get comfortable being in front of the camera!
-Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
—My goal right now is to continue to grow as an artist and continue to tackle new challenges as time moves on. Ultimately in the next 5 years I’d like to take on new responsibilities in the entertainment industry, while opening a space for others to achieve their fitness and health goals. I am driven to be the best at what I do. Moving forward I am eager to learn, grow, and surround myself with people who challenge me to do my best day in and day out.
-As a model it’s important to always try to stay fit. What are your keys to a healthy life?
— Mental and physical health are both very important. As I learn more about myself I understand the importance of routine and taking care of the mind. Every morning I begin my day by meditating for at least 10 minutes to set the intention for whats to come. Usually my first meal comes around noon. Intermittent fasting mixed with a nutritious diet is a great way to remain lean and stay sharp mentally.
Staying physically fit is definitely important. My favorite and go-to activity is boxing. Usually in the mornings before my first meal, I try to make sure I go a solid 12 rounds followed by some light lifting. Anywhere from 3-4 times a week. Outside of that I enjoy hiking. Most importantly is the nutrition that supplements my lifestyle.
To end the day I journal just to reflect and empty my mind before heading to bed. These practices as of recent have allowed me to be more well rounded in living a healthy lifestyle.
-What have you learned about yourself since joining the modeling/entertainment industry?
—-What I’ve learned mostly about myself since joining the industry could turn into a serious conversation about how important mental health is. Rejection is prominent in this business and we have to be comfortable with it. No one throws you an instruction manual and says, “here, here’s how it’s done.” We have to learn on our own and with that comes some high-high’s and low-low’s. It’s often tough, but finding balance and comfort in the light and dark have been a serious learning experience for me.
-What have you sacrificed for success?
–Time. Most importantly time. Time that I can’t get back with family, friends, and loved ones. As I get older I realize the importance of loved ones and family members. Sometimes it’s hard to explain why I’m not always able to schedule things so far in advance because a job may or may not arise. If there is anything I would love to get back is the time lost with people I hold closest to my heart.
-Going with your gut or expertise? Which is more imperative to you and why?
—In my experience, going with expertise is fine and dandy when it comes to measuring something with statistics or science. However if we’re talking about decisions that have an impact on yourself or someone else, trusting your intuition will usually point you in the right direction. We all get that “gut feeling”, wether we acknowledge and listen to it is up to us. Looking back in regards to my career and relationships, there are times I tried to go with my expertise when all along my gut was the real expert.
-LAST BE NOT LEAST!! FUN QUESTION!
As you get older there’s always new information to inherit. What’s one thing you know now that you wish you knew before?
–Ahh I wish I knew that being an adult doesn’t mean you have everything together! Age is literally just a number. Although we might seem like we have it together, everyone is fighting the fight of their lives on a daily basis. Adults are just bigger kids stuck in an aging body who now have to work to provide for themselves and their responsibilities. I’ve found that we never actually grow up, we just learn how to hold our tongue a little bit more